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Congressman shares his thoughts about attacks

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

Missouri Sixth District Con-gressman Sam Graves was in Platte County this week, having returned to his district on Saturday after being in Washington when terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the Pentagon and into the World Trade Center towers in New York City.

During a stop in The Landmark office on Monday afternoon, Congressman Graves spoke about the day of the attack.

"It started off like any other day for millions of Americans and me. But the normalcy of the day would not last long," he said, explaining how he and fellow Congressmen became aware of how serious the situation had become when the Speaker of the House was whisked away by Secret Service personnel to ensure the order of presidential succession. The Speaker of the House is second only to the vice president in the line of presidential order.

Graves said last Tuesday's attacks on our nation "took the American people by complete surprise, more so than even the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor."

Graves confirmed reports that the attack on the Pentagon could have been much worse in terms of casualties if not for the fact a good portion of the building where the plane struck was under renovation. Had the plane hit on the opposite side of the building, there would have been more victims, perhaps more key Pentagon leaders included. About 190 people were killed.

As it is, Graves said, "It seems almost impossible that anyone could survive the impact and destruction that occurred," on the Pentagon.

Graves said it's not clear that the Pentagon was the initial intended target, with some speculation that the plane actually initially targeted the White House. Also, there is speculation the hijacked plane that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania killing all on board but nobody on the ground may have been headed to the Capitol Building in Washington.

Graves said what does seem clear is that passengers on that Pennsylvania plane took action against the hijackers.

"It seems clear they made an attempt to take back control of the plane," he said of the passengers.

The Congressman said that while terrorists had declared war on America years ago, "few people before Tuesday had heeded their threats."

America remains strong, however, Graves emphasized.

"Despite diversity and adversity, we are still the greatest nation in the world.

"All Americans must come together and do what they can to assist the nation's war effort. Whether it's giving blood, sending donations, praying for the thousands of grieving families or simply saying thanks to the brave men and women who put their lives on the line each and every day so that we may be free, it's important that we are vigilant and patient in our efforts to overcome this evil," Graves said.

Graves said the forthcoming military effort, which President Bush has referred to as a war on terrorism, is a war that "we must, can, and will win."

He related the story of a walk he took on the National Mall this past week. As he was there with thousands of people who came together to pray, to sing and to gain strength from others around them, he said he looked in admiration on the Washington Monument that shown brightly above the thousands of candles flickering below.

"Its brilliance pointing to the heavens renewed my faith in our nation, its people and our future.

"In the years to come, we will all see more dark days, yet through it all, our virtues, our determination and our faith shall shine brightly on this nation and the world," he said.

He then echoed the words of President Bush:

"We'll seek out those that harbor hatred and terror in their hearts and we will defeat them," he said.